INNOVATIVE ENERGY SOLUTIONS FOR SMES
The manufacturing sector in Kenya is set to blossom as it is among the four major items the government is keen on delivering in. This said, the sector still faces a number of challenges that if not tackled will negatively impact the sector’s performance. One major issue is energy availability, both in quality and quantity. In other words, sustainable energy accessibility.
The Kenyan power generation relies heavily on hydro-power and fossil fuel generation. This implies that in cases where drought bites and the water levels drop, then the quantity of power generated also reduces and power rationing is even applied in dire circumstances. The fossil power generation has quite a dynamic high cost that it is unsustainable.
For the manufacturing sector to blossom, it is imperative that energy is available to motivate especially the microprocessors to scale up and be operational for longer periods. To be able to do this, there has to be relatively cheaper energy sources or innovative ways of harnessing and utilizing this energy to ensure the bottom line is maintained or boosted.
Microprocessors struggle with investing in capital intensive energy technologies for the obvious reasons of their cost and inadequate utilization of the full capacities. This however does not mean that they don’t require energy. Therefore to ensure this sector is adequately supplied with energy, innovative ways of accessing energy need to be made available. These technologies can be scaled up when production volumes go up and are also able to utilize conventional materials for energy generation.
There are a variety of innovative energy solutions that the microprocessors could look into:
- Use of biomass for hot water generation. There are developed boiler jikos that are able to utilize biomass such as maize cobs, coconut shells, baobab shells, sawdust and other biomass wastes. The boiler jikos can be used to carry out normal cooking and they heat water in the process for other uses in the factory. This technology is suitable for schools, small and medium-sized hotels and hospitals.
- Installing heat recovery systems to use the otherwise waste heat for process heat requirements. This works with facilities that have an existing energy generator in place. This could be boiler or a waste incinerator. The heat recovery system harvests waste heat from the fuel gases and can be used for generating hot water for other process requirements. This is suitable for hospitals and manufacturing industries.
- Use of hot water boilers for low energy processing requirements. These boilers are customized to the customers’ needs from as low as 250 liters capacity to 1000 liters capacity. They use biomass or diesel for energy generation. They are best suited for microprocessors, hospitals, schools and mid-sized manufacturing companies.